British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has signed a post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union (EU) on Wednesday 30th December 2020 after which the document was signed by the EU’s chief executive and flown from Brussels to London.
“Have I read it? The answer is yes,” said Johnson on 31st December 2020.
The trade deal was announced on 24th December and sets the terms of Britain’s new relationship with the EU following their split. This will take effect from 1st January 2021, replacing the transitional arrangement where EU rules continued to apply in the UK.
UK lawmakers supported Britain’s post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union on Wednesday in a parliamentary vote.
The bill was passed with an easy majority, 521 to 73 votes in Westminster, after an accelerated hearing in both Houses of Parliament. The deal, finalised last week, marks an important milestone more than four years after Britain chose to leave the EU and after months of tough negotiations.
The bill received approval in the House of Lords late Wednesday and was swiftly sent to the Queen for her royal assent. The law will take effect before the end of the Brexit transition period at 11pm UK time, on New Year’s Eve.
“The House of Lords is notified of the Royal Accord to the European Union (Future Relations) Act,” the House of Lords said on Twitter late Tuesday 29th December 2020.
The Brexit deal has been criticised on several fronts since it was agreed on 24th December 2020. The opposition party, Labour, says it is too thin and does not protect services, angers fishermen who assert that Johnson has sold off their interests, and the status of Northern Ireland remains unclear.
Nevertheless, Johnson has won the support of his party’s hard-line Brexiteers, providing a far more radical break with the EU than many imagined when Britain shocked the world in 2016 by voting to leave.
The agreement has received interim approval from the European Union, with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel formally signing the agreement on Wednesday.
The European Parliament is expected to review the agreement at a later date before it can be formally ratified by the European Union.
The deal establishes new business and security ties with Britain’s biggest trading partner after months of deadlock over areas such as fishing quotas, how Britain will use state aid to support post-Brexit UK business and legal oversight of any deal.
The agreement, which maintains UK tariff-free access and quotas to EU consumers, provides Britain with some of the direst potential consequences of Brexit as it battles a crippling pandemic.
But while Britain must provide a short-term boost to the economy, a trade agreement will still make the country poorer at a time of its worst job crisis and recession in more than 300 years.
According to Tempo, the deal also appears to cover mostly trade in goods, in which Britain has a deficit with the European Union, but excludes major service industries such as finance, which currently enjoy a surplus.